Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action IF - LEAF2TBM


The MSCA project entitled “From Leaf to Terrestrial Biosphere Model: Integrating multi-scale observations of highly diverse tropical ecosystems for global scale simulations ” (LEAF2TBM) is an individual fellowship. Dr Marc Peaucelle (the researcher) will spend two years at CAVElab (the host group, led by prof. Hans Verbeeck). Main collaborators within this project are prof. Pascal Boeckx (Ghent University, Belgium), prof. Ivan Janssens (Antwerp University, Belgium) and prof. C. Ewango (Kisangani University, D.R. Congo), as well as the INERA (Institut National pour l’Etude et la Recherche Agronomique) institute in DR.Congo. This project aims at quantifying the impact of high diversity of tropical forests on the associated carbon and water cycles with the help of multi-scale observations and vegetation models.

Project Description

The representation of terrestrial ecosystems is a key source of uncertainty in future projections of the coupled carbon cycle/ climatic system. Current Terrestrial Biosphere Models (TBMs) represent the worldwide vegetation by a dozen of rigid Plant Functional Types (PFT), with empirical mechanisms calibrated on discrete observations. As a result, TBMs represent highly diverse ecosystems such as tropical forests with only one clone of the same plant. This over-simplified representation arises from the lack of observations in some regions such as over Africa, which leads to widely diverging results for C cycling and nutrient/water limitations under future scenarios. Simulating plant diversity is crucial for assessing global change impact on ecosystems and their feedback on climate.

LEAF2TBM targets the unresolved challenge for TBMs to simulate the effects of plant diversity on tropical forest ecosystem functioning and associated global biogeochemical cycles based on an integrated assessment of processes across different scales. This will be achieve by collecting unique concomitant field observations of carbon dioxide and water vapor exchanges measured at multiple scales (from individuals to ecosystem) and state-of-the-art modelling approaches to

  1. accurately quantify the effect of the functional diversity on ecosystems fluxes for two forests located in the Congo Basin and Amazon;
  2. disentangle the roles of species composition and environment on ecosystems fluxes;
  3. and provide a robust estimate of the global C budget uncertainty for tropical forests in TBMs.

LEAF2TBM seizes the unique opportunity of having unprecedented data from a new fluxtower that was installed in the Yangambi reserve, DR.congo, since October 2020 to meet the objectives and to build a robust dataset of observations that will be made available to the whole scientific community.

The first fluxtower in tropical Africa, built by UGent and operational since October 2020 (CONGFLUX project). This tower measures the exchange of carbon and water between the forest and the atmosphere.


The main objective of LEAF2TBM is to clearly define the effect of local functional diversity on ecosystem carbon and water fluxes in order to improve the robustness of TBMs based on ecological theories that link plant traits, local environment and ecosystem functioning. To this aim, LEAF2TBM will address the following research questions:

  1. How the high variability in plant functional traits observed among individuals propagates to stand and ecosystem level observations of carbon and water fluxes and stocks?
  2. Is the spatio-temporal variability of processes mainly controlled by the abiotic environment? To which extent does community composition influence this variability?
  3. Can we estimate the importance of including plant functional diversity in TBMs. What are the biases introduced when calibrating highly diverse ecosystems with few individual discrete observations?

Role of Ghent University

In this project Ghent University is the beneficiary organization. The postdoctoral research fellow, dr Marc Peaucelle, will be hosted by CAVElab from prof. Hans Verbeeck.


CONGOFLUX Youtube video


Dr. Marc Peaucelle
Department of Environment
Phone: +32 9 264 61 13